We Don't Have to Face Writing Alone
June 18, 2012
Guest blogger Rebecca Scarberry knows that authors don’t have to face the daunting task of writing in a world of uncertainty There are many authors on Twitter willing to provide critical advice that helps them get a novel ready for publishing.
I have a place where I find help with my writing of fiction that you might find surprising. I have been a guest on several blogs where I talk about my struggles with writing. I was self-editing my debut novel when a professional editor told me that I needed help he couldn’t provide.
I decided to join Twitter a little over one year ago, hoping to connect with authors who might be able to tell me the best place to go for help. As I look back on this, I realize I was quite the pest. After much advice from various authors, I decided the editing of my debut novel was going to take a long time, and I quickly lost my confidence and interest in continuing the story.
Two authors told me about a couple of contests. I decided that my writing skills would improve if I worked on some short stories, primarily because author Scott Nicholson told me to keep writing. If I did,I would get better and better. I couldn’t afford to quit and give it all up on everything I had hoped for and dreamed about. A story is not a story if it simply stays in your mind and never spills out on a piece of paper.
I found out very quickly how hard it is to write an interesting story only using 1,500 words. I didn’t give up. I wrote two short stories and entered both in the contests. I didn’t win either of them, but several authors read Messages From Henry and suggested that I expand it into a novel or novella. It’s a story about a homing pigeon who is trying to help rescue his owner from her kidnapper.
I was also told that I should create a blog. While lengthening Messages From Henry, another author read my other short story, Rag Doll, and suggested that I might be able to add pages and publish it. Therefore, I stopped working on one and began a full scale assault on the second story, Rag Doll. I didn’t expect it to take very long to finish either, but I was wrong.
The two stories were written in different tense, and I became extremely frustrated with the stories and with myself. I was in a quandary and didn’t know which way to turn. So I turned to those following me on Twitter. I would give them a word or a sentence I was having trouble with and ask for their advice. I had never seen anybody else on Twitter do this, but maybe they weren’t as frustrated as I was. I was thrilled with the response. Published authors do help authors who are struggling to become published. If I’m in trouble, I know that someone is out there in Twitter land to help me, and I still seek their advice today.
This is what I find humorous about that. If I wait long enough, one of them usually comes up with an answer far different from what I was expecting. They arm me with an entirely different sentence that is normally much better than the one I had been working on. Some writers might be too embarrassed to seek help in such a manner, but, as I said before, it doesn’t bother me to let others know of the struggles I may be having. All authors, at one time or another, hit dead ends. It’s good to know we aren’t in this endeavor alone. Someone will always help. Someone is always wanting to help.
I don’t feel like they judge me. I think it actually becomes somewhat of a game for them. They are anxious to see which suggestion I decide to go with. I always let them know. What makes this so enjoyable is, not only do I get to chat with them and get the help I need, but I gain many new followers also.
When one of them answers, I immediately find out if I’m following that person. If not, I do so without any delay. We’re connected. We may never meet. But I know I have new friends. It’s great fun, and I think I might be addicted to Twitter, which may be worth a completely new blog posting.
In case you’re wondering about the short stories, I chose not to publish Rag Doll on the traditional sites. Instead, I rushed it onto my blog so I could get back to my original version of Messages from Henry. I was thinking about expanding it into a novelette, but I wasn’t for certain. Messages From Henry sent to a very kind author who said he would format the book for me free. He claimed that I had done so much for him, he would honored to help me.
I didn’t have a clue what he meant, but I was honored to let him do it. It’s now free on Smashwords and headed for Amazon.
I’m not computer savvy at all. I obtained my very first computer shortly after completing my debut novel, which I wrote in longhand and then transferred to the laptop. A few months later, I joined the internet world. As a result, I became involved with Twitter, and I’m glad that I did. It put me in touch with authors who were willing to help me, and they changed my writing life.